Delivery Journey

or to open in a new browser tab click here:   Gayundah’s Delivery Journey

On 13 November 1884 Gayundah sailed from Newcastle-on-Tyne, under the command of Captain Henry Townley-Wright (Royal Navy).

The crew for this journey also included First Lieutenant Hesketh (R.N., retired list), Navigating Lieutenant Williams (R.N.) and Chief Engineer Nicholson (R.N., retired list)

She called at the ports of Dartmouth, Gibraltar, Algiers, Malta, and then traveling via the Suez Canal and Red Sea to Aden, Colombo, Batavia, Thursday Island, Townsville, Woody Island, and through Hervey Bay and over the Wide Bay bar.  Gayundah finally steamed up the Brisbane River on 28 March 1885.

The voyage was prolonged, as Gayundah had not been designed for long sea voyages. She sat low in the water and the waves frequently crashed over her deck.

Being fitted with masts and yards, Gayundah could carry sail, and though her sails were inadequate to move such a heavy ship alone, they were used to provide assistance to the engines during this journey.

Immediately on arrival in Brisbane, at the height of the Russian invasion scare, Gayundah went to work patrolling Moreton Bay.

Journey Timetable

Dep: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 13 November 1884
Dep: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 13 November 1884
Arr: Dartmouth
Dep: Dartmouth
Passage via:  across the Bay of Biscay
Arr: Gibraltar,  Stayed one week
Dep: Gibraltar,
Arr: Algiers. Stayed 4 days
Dep: Algiers
Arr: Malta 7th December.  “A long stay”
Dep: Malta, Tuesday, the 30th December
Passage via:  Suez Canal and Red Sea
Arr: Aden, Yemen.
Dep: Aden.
Arr: Colombo. Ceylon
Dep: Colombo.
Passage via:   Passing outside the Straits of Malacca
Arr: Batavia  (now Jakarta, Indonesia)
Dep: Batavia
Arr: Brisbane River (Garden Reach)  27 March 1885, approx. 2pm.

The Journey was described in The Brisbane Courier (Saturday 28 March 1885, page 5.) thus:


The arrival of the gunboat Gayundah in Brisbane waters yesterday, after a protracted voyage from England, excited no small attention. A few details of the voyage, as jotted down after a conversation with Commander Wright, R.A, will, therefore, be read with interest. The Gayundah sailed from Newcastle-upon-Tyne – that northern city of coals, shipbuilders, and scullers – on the 13th November last. She put in at Dartmouth and soon after bade farewell to the shores of old England. Fortunately fine weather was experienced during the passage across the Bay of Biscay. Captain Wright was enabled thus early in the voyage to test the gunboat’s capabilities in a fallowing sea and running before the wind. Although lying low  in the water with her bows frequently under the waves she was found to be very dry and buoyant. Gibraltar was the first stopping  place, and there they met with the Channel Squadron under the command of Vice Admiral H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh.

The Gayundah remained at Gibraltar a week including four days on which a strong “levanter” or Easterly gale was blowing in the Mediterranean. The   Duke of Edinburgh manifested great interest in the Gayundah, although he was unable to visit her in consequence of pressure of business. He had, however, a long conversation with Captain Wright in which he expressed the deep interest he felt in the formation of colonial navies and endeavoured to learn as many particulars as were obtainable.   On the subsidence of the gale, the Gayundah resumed her voyage.

Off Algiers she encountered a strong easterly gale, in which the vessel laboured rather heavily, but without any appreciable strain. In consideration of the guns and heavy top weight of the vessel, Captain Wright deemed it inadvisable to risk a strain on the vessel by steaming against the gale and therefore put into Algiers. Here they met with a large Russian frigate which had also been compelled to make for port through stress of weather. As a proof of the severity of the gale, it may be mentioned that several coasting vessels were wrecked, life was lost, trees blown up by the roots, and property on shore destroyed.  After a detention of four days at Algiers, the gunboat resumed her voyage.

Malta was the next port of call, and there a long stay was made.  Here the guns and machinery were thoroughly overhauled – a step rendered necessary by the effects of long exposure to salt water. Availing himself of the delay, Captain Wright obtained by cable from the Admiralty authorities permission to have the secret of the Whitehead torpedo imparted to him. At once placing himself under the instructor in the torpedo school, he was out with the first class torpedo boats every day and – he believes – made himself thoroughly conversant with everything connected with them. At Malta they fell in with the Mediterranean Squadron under the command of Admiral Lord John Hay, who, like his Royal colleague in the Channel Squadron, also evinced a warm interest in the establishment of the colonial navies. He also proferred to Captain Wright any assistance available in the Government Dockyards.

Admiral Tryon passed Malta in the mail steamer whilst the gunboat was there, but time did not permit of his paying a visit. The new man-of-war, the Agamemnon, 8510 tons, on its     way to the China station, was also met with at Malta. The Gayundah had previously met her at Gibraltar from which port she had started before them, and had just escaped a severe gale encountered by the Gayundah. The magnificent vessel was on its way out to China. A stay of three weeks was made at Malta, during which Christmas Day was celebrated in gay and       festive style. Life in Malta is by no means a   dull affair, and in the round of gaieties, Captain Wright and his officers were not forgotten. On Tuesday, the 30th December, the Gayundah sailed from Malta once again, in “spick and span” condition.

The passage of the Suez Canal and through the Red Sea was uneventful. Cool and calm weather prevailed until Aden was reached. The coaling there was heavier than previously in consequence of the length of the next stage, namely, Colombo. A deck cargo of coal was, therefore, taken on board, and the vessel was, consequently, low down in the water. This fact did not prevent her successfully coping with the north-east monsoon which was met with.

Another deck cargo of coals was shipped at Colombo. At that place they heard of the loss of the   Queensland Government steamer Musgrave. An inquiry has been held, but the Gayundah left port before the authorities had furnished Captain Wright with a copy of the depositions and finding.

Passing outside the Straits of Malacca the Gayundah in due time reached Batavia, where the authorities allowed Captain Wright to enter the new harbour works which though not then formally opened, were already being used by vessels which had previously to anchor out in the roadstead. These harbour works are connected with the town of Batavia by a canal six miles in length. The Dutch Admiral in command of the station was very courteous to Captain Wright and his officers, and offered them all assistance in his power. He showed interest in the gunboat and the colonial navies of which she was a unit. As at previous places, a stoppage took place for the purpose of cleaning up and sweeping the tubes of the boilers.  The R.M.S. Dorunda, which had left England a month later, overtook the Gayundah at Batavia. To Captain Wright this was an unexpected pleasure, as Mrs. Wright was a passenger. That lady continued her voyage to Brisbane in the Dorunda, and had been awaiting her husband’s arrival a fortnight. A deck cargo of coal having been taken on board at Batavia, the gun-boat sailed for Thursday Island.

At that place the gunboat was detained for a week coaling from the B.I.S.N. Company’s hulk, cleaning up and making repairs, These latter consisted chiefly of replacing the zinc plates on the boilers. Mr. H.M. Chester, P.M., and the good folks of Thursday Island dispensed the hospitalities of the place in liberal fashion.  On every Thursday a half holiday is granted to the marines to mend up and perform other offices for themselves. Advantage was taken of the Thursdaay the gunboat was at Thursday Island to play a cricket match. The tale of that match has already been told by telegram, but this much may be stated that in consequence of previous weather and the state of the ground the game was rather more akin to “mudlarking” than to cricket. The Gayundah left Thursday Island in charge of Captain Dark, a pilot who has recently been appointed to one of the China steam services. Of this officer Captain Wright speaks in the highest terms.

Passing Cooktown, the next stopping place was at Townsville, anchoring off Magnetic Island. Here overhauling and tube sweeping occupied some days.

Leaving there Captain Wright hoped to make Brisbane speedily, but encountering southeast winds he was obliged to stop at Woody Island to coal. The anchor was weighed, and Wide Bay bar crossed on Thursday, and the Gayundah safely reached Moreton Bay yesterday at 6 a.m.